Nestled on the back slopes overlooking the Bandol bay, the Domaine de Terrebrune, with its 30 hectares of vineyards and the woods around, seems untouched yet by the urban sprawl that disfigured much the coastal strip in the area. To reach its premises in the back of Ollioules, you have to drive on a beautiful narrow road winding through woods, terraced vineyards and olive trees.
Here is a Bandol estate which uses only organic farming for its vineyard management and makes some of the most serious and refined wines of this tiny Appellation.
The Domaine de Terrebrune is one of them, and it has quietly produced over the years wines with fineness and elegance. Located on the eastern wing of the Appellation area, it is backed against the Gros Cerveau mountain range on one side, with an open view on the mediteranean on the other side, benefiting from both the cool mountain air in the night and the iodine and wind coming from the sea. This coastal area of Bandol can be very hot in summer like the rest of Provence, but something related to the air currents coming from the sea makes it (could be also the saline quality of this air also) very bearable, both for the people and for the vines. That is also where the Mourvèdre, a variety which needs lots of sun and heat, shows its best results. The Terrebrune vineyards sit on a Trias-era soil with a redish-brownish color that gave its name to the estate (terre brune means brown earth), actually Reynald Delille remembers jokingly that he was the one who found this name for the estate and tipped his father about it when he was a teenager.
__1 Bandol white Terrebrune 2006. very clear wine. B. notes her impression of maturity and regularity here. 40% Clairette, 35% Ugni Blanc, 15% Bourboulenc, 5% Rolle and 5% Marsanne. Mr Delille says that they don't look for the aromatic or flattering side, but more for minerality and terroir. This white Bandol went through its malolactic fermentation to reach its natural balance. Elsewhere, other wineries often prevent the wine from doing its malo-ferm so as to artificially keep more aromas and acidity. Here, he started the fermentation with neutral yeasts and added some sulphur so that it doesn't get out of control in the early stage. He says that the vignerons have always used sulphur and that the advantage of our modern times is that we can use it in homeopatic quantities. Some SO2 is also added after the malolactic fermentation to prevent bacterias from working with alcohol, with doses which are antibacterian but not antioxydant. At bottling, the wine gets only 20-25 mg/liter (the official rule allows 250 mg) and after a while it disappears from the wine.
__2 Terrebrune Bandol red 2003. Released on the market earlier this year. Nose : deep aromas of fruits. Jammy fruits. Liquorice. Nuts. Red and black fruits. Mouth : tannins. Aromas of cherry and plum in alcohol. Very beautiful...
__3 Terrebrune Bandol red 1999. Nose : animal (the bottle was opened for us) B. says : suppleness and density at the same time, no void in the mid-mouth. Refined.
__4 Terrebrune Bandol red 1998. Nose : animal. Very different from the 1999, more on the flower side. Faded rose, thymus, hay, says B. 80% of Mourvèdre here, with Grenache and Cinsault. There's been a steady increase of the Mourvèdre share in the blend over the years, because that's what makes the quality of Bandol wines. But a blend has always more expression and finesse, that's why the Grenache and Cinsault are important, like salt and pepper can be for a dish.
__5 Terrebrune Bandol red 1987. Clear wine by comparison, 60% Mourvèdre here. Nose : underwood notes, mushrooms. Reynald Delille feels tobacco notes too. There's hot pine notes also in there (anyone who has been walking in pine woods under a hot summer day in Provence knows that smell).
__7 Bandol Rosé (pink) 2006. 50% Mourvèdre, the rest split between Grenache and Cinsault. Very specific color for a rosé, because of the Mourvèdre, onion peel. Very nice mouth, aromatic and with density. "Gourmande" mouth, with a honey side. Glides on the tongue. Made by direct press from low-yield, black grapes. The minerality has to do with the Trias geology here, that is, limestone debris with clay on the surface, and filtering marl with blue limestone in the undersoil. The roots making their way through it all.
__8 Terrebrune Bandol Rosé 1994. Speaking of the Bandol rosés, they are the ones that can age the best in the world, mainly because of the Mourvèdre part, and Pascal Perier of the Maison des Vins de Bandol, who once opened a couple of old Bandol rosés for a check, told me that the Terrebrune rosés are among the ones with the longest aging potential. Color : golden amber. Nose : dry raisins. Light polish, he says. B. feels cocoa powder also. Botrytis side. Honeyish mouth feel.
The last news from Terrebrune is that the harvest was fine, with a nice maturity and volumes down 10 to 15% compared with last year because of the drought. The millesime should be good.